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Using lean principles to drive operational improvements in intermodal container facilities: A conceptual framework

Peter Olesen (Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.)
Daryl Powell (Department of Production and Quality Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.)
Hans-Henrik Hvolby (Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.)
Kym Fraser (Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Tusmore, Australia.)

Journal of Facilities Management

ISSN: 1472-5967

Article publication date: 6 July 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of lean principles to drive operational improvements in intermodal container facilities. Intermodal terminals have an important role in today’s globally complex supply networks. In the case of bottleneck-derived terminalization, operational issues such as achieving effective material flow remains a significant and common challenge. To assist with such challenges, the paper develops a conceptual framework built on the principles of lean.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, a theory-building approach is adopted and a lean terminalization framework developed by combining aspects of lean- and intermodal transport theory with practical insights. The framework was developed in conjunction with two intermodal container facilities within the Scandinavian region.

Findings

The conceptual framework demonstrates how lean approaches can be used to identify improvement areas, as well as to develop solutions for improved material flow in the context of intermodal transport operations. The framework can be used to guide the lean implementation process in small to medium intermodal container facilities.

Research limitations/implications

The development of the framework represents the first stage of a two-stage project. The second stage will involve implementing and empirically testing the framework in the practical settings of the two-case facilities.

Practical implications

Lean is a philosophical approach that consists of a set of principles that drive organizations to continually add value to their operations. The application of lean practices enhances necessary process steps and eliminates those that fail to add value, thereby improving material flow and performance.

Social implications

Improving the operational efficiency and effectiveness of container terminals out not only assists the profitability of the facilities but also has flow-on benefits for stakeholders, external customers, consumers and the environment.

Originality/value

Lean has been successfully applied in manufacturing because the 1990s, and though it has also found relevance in a number of other industries, applications of lean within the intermodal transport sector is limited.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was made possible by The SINTEF project PROFIT, which has been financed by the Research Council of Norway, The ViaNord Project, which has been financed by the Danish Economic Growth Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, The Port of Aalborg and Aalborg University for funding the PhD project. Further, gratitude should be given to Erik Gran from SINTEF for valuable input and information.

Citation

Olesen, P., Powell, D., Hvolby, H.-H. and Fraser, K. (2015), "Using lean principles to drive operational improvements in intermodal container facilities: A conceptual framework", Journal of Facilities Management, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 266-281. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFM-09-2014-0030

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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